In ministry we've heard them all.
"Pray for my gas," was one that shut down open prayer request time at one church we served in.
"Pray for my hangnail," was one another pastor heard.
"Pray for my son to get a new job where he can make more money," is one a mother said to me on a Sunday morning.
Some I've prayed include:
"Please help us get out of debt."
"Please take this illness away."
What part do we play in having our needs met?
The pastor who was asked to pray for the hangnail told the man, "Go home and cut it off."
The answer to my prayer about getting out of debt took several years of hard work on our part. The miracle was finding a book about being debt free.
The answer to my prayer about taking my illness away lied in finding a four month detox cleanse diet that cured me of my ailment.
My mother-in-law was able to avoid taking medicine for a diabetes diagnosis by simply changing her diet and adding in some exercise.
Sometimes the answer to the words we pray is within our reach, all we have to do is move. Sometimes we have to do something.
Is it easier to pray and hope for a miracle? Sure, but when you're able to use wisdom and the Lord's guidance to receive the answer it means so much more.
Knowing how hard we worked at getting out of debt after learning how to do it gave us a sense of pride in our accomplishment and is a testimony to others that it can be done. We also willingly allow our mistakes to serve as examples of how not to spend.
Joel VanBriggle is a friend I've known since he was born. He's currently serving as a Missionary in Belgium and has been in ministry for several decades. He recently started a conversation on Facebook by asking this question:
"Is it possible that our practice of praying for miracles is just an excuse for doing nothing?"
He received some opposition to his statement, because what's social media without someone being offended? He further explained by saying,
"By definition I would say that miracles are those things which only God can do. Too often I have seen people pray for miracles for things that people can and should do. I was reading in Acts 2:42-47 where the early church sold property and possessions to give to those in need. They were devoted to each other and made sacrifices. I have prayed and have heard prayers, "God, would you provide for Frank's college tuition," or "Lord, please provide Sally with a reliable car." These are situations where we can be part of the answer, but unfortunately instead of being part of the answer we pray an easier prayer, asking God to do a miracle. We do need to pray and believe for miracles, yet when possible we should do everything we can and let God handle what we can't."
Sometimes the answer to prayer is in our hands. God wants to use us in many different ways. You might hold the answer to someone's prayer.
Maybe we should begin to pray more for wisdom and guidance so we can meet the needs of those around us.
"Lord, open our eyes and help us to do what we are able. Let your light shine through us to change lives."